Every year, our city, state and nation paint communities pink in the highly publicized fight against breast cancer. As the most diagnosed cancer in Tallahassee, and one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women, breast cancer has impacted countless lives.
This October, in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we chose to bring awareness and education to reduce risk and increase prevention of breast cancer in our community.
The truth behind breast cancer exams & screenings
Although breast cancer exams and screenings cannot prevent cancer, they can help find breast cancer early – when it’s ultimately easier to treat with less extensive treatments.
At Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, our breast care team has adopted the American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Guidelines for patients. While mammograms can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, they are essential.
We recommend women have annual exams starting at age 40, along with giving yourself regular self-breast exams. If you’re at a higher risk, discuss screening options with your primary care physician and always remember to communicate any breast changes or concerns.
How to reduce your risk today
Many factors can influence breast cancer risk, but in addition to regular exams, there are many things you can do to help lower your overall chances:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a healthy diet, with a focus on plant-based foods. Eat 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits daily. Limit processed foods and red meats.
- Choose whole grains instead of refined grains.
- Exercise regularly (at least four hours a week). Studies prove your risk of cancer decreases with increased physical activity.
- Get at least eight hours of sleep per night.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- Avoid exposure to carcinogens – chemicals proven to cause cancer.
- Try to reduce your exposure to radiation during medical tests like X-rays, CT scans and PET scans.
- If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy medications or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it’s right for you.
- If possible, mothers should breastfeed.
Treating breast cancer in Tallahassee
As the Big Bend region’s only accredited breast program by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), we provide personalized treatment plans for each patient. Using cutting-edge diagnostic and treatment methods, our team specializes in treatment options spanning from immunotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and more.
TMH is also home to the region’s first multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer, the Breast Clinic at the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center. Providing our community with an incomparable level of care in a more efficient treatment process, the Breast Clinic brings medical providers together to review each referred case and formulate an individualized plan of care.
During the single day appointment, patients meet surgeons and are provided lunch while the multidisciplinary team meets to formulate a plan of care. Patients then meet with providers, who are recommended as part of the patient’s individualized plan of care, during the multidisciplinary team meeting.
Delivering a more effective treatment process and streamlining various appointments into one day, allows patients ample access to their medical team for clear communication between providers and patients.
Additionally, our physicians are actively investigating new therapies. Through our clinical trials, we offer access to treatments that are not available elsewhere.
Together, let’s paint the town pink this month. To learn more about breast cancer and Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center, visit TMH.ORG/Cancer
Tod Morris, MD, is Medical Oncologist at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.
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